Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Late Years Six


The Late Years Six December 9, 2018

For Al Curtis

In the early days, he worked for Wayne Combs,
who had a place on Franklin Street, then out
in rural orange County. Al took over Wayne’s
business when he moved back to Elkin, up in
the mountains, so I always went to Al, and he
would go out of his way to help me. If possible,
he would let me wait in the shop while he did
repairs or changed the oil. He’d check the tires,
and he’d repair only what was necessary, and
let me pay over several months if I needed to.
He helped me find another car when my blue 
Plymouth with a new transmission got totaled.
Then I drove a gold Chrysler Lebaron for ten
years. My Russian friends called it the “dleenaya
machina,” the “long car,” when I drove up
in it. When it needed replacing, Al sold me his 
own mid-sized dark green Dodge Dakota truck,
and I still drive it. He fixed everything, except
the engine. One of his friends prophesied
that the engine had another ten years on it.
It has a new used fuel pump, a new radiator 
and other parts, but though with its rust spots,
it’s not beautiful, it goes. We chatted some
about politics or weather.  I took him 
some eggs, a loaf of bread, or fig preserves
sometimes. He told me, when he was having eye 
problems He used a little flashlight to help him
see. On recent visits he had lost weight, and
the last time we talked, in mid-November,
he said he couldn’t do the inspection this
week and sent me to Sturdivant’s. I know
now that he was even then suffering from the 
cancer that killed him, but I couldn’t have
told. He also advised my son Tim where he
could buy a radiator for his truck for little
cost. Until Randy called, I didn’t know what
I had lost. In my Rolodex, under Al Curtis, ;
I have the words: ‘My faithful mechanic.” 
For more than twenty-five years, he took care 
of my cars, and for fifteen, my truck. Few
 people in my life have been so trustworthy. 
Al was a linch-pin: steadfast, honest, reliable,
true to his word, a good friend to those who
saw him clearly and valued what they saw.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Late Years Five


Our coal ash victory party, when Judge Fox ruled for us.

Note: John Cross is on the right, next to last at the end of the table. 

***
The Late Years Five  December 2, 2018
For John Cross

Last night I couldn’t sleep after 1:30 so I got up.
John Cross was on my mind. I was remembering
all the ways he had helped me and our coal ash 
group. Getting the fish when we had a fish fry
to help pay the lawyer, giving me rides when we
met with the E-Lee group. He knew how to reach 
people about our use of the Liberty Chapel Annex.
He always came to our meetings on the first
Friday of the month, and he would call Bud
to unlock the annex for us. He was there at our
protests. Back in 2015, he joined with some E-Lee
people to carry into the hearing a make-believe
coffin to demonstrate the effects of coal ash in
our air, in our water. He came to court when they
tried our case. He drove to Raleigh when we met
with Rev. Barber on the steps of the Legislature
about the poisons in coal ash. I remember when 
Margaret Pollard introduced “my cousin” to me. 
Others of our members as the years passed, lost 
faith that we could win, but not John. He stayed
the course. He’d talk about his busy schedule. 
He went to many meetings: a veterans’ group 
and was president of our Democratic precinct. 
He was always a delegate to the county Democratic 
meeting in the spring and he’d work at the polling
place during elections. He was always there when
he was needed. He fixed a loose board on my
back porch. The day I fell down crossing our 
Moncure-Pittsboro Road because of a speeding 
car, he and his brother Wayne came to check 
on me. John, John, how will we do without you?


Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Late Years Two


Backyard zinnias 2014

***
The Late Years Two  November 11, 2018

Today the frost comes down, plummeting
to sunrise. Problems, when they arrive,
are magnified. I send thought messages
when none come by phone or email, but
I don’t think they’re listening. So many
people are preoccupied with the now. I
let it make me stumble, too. Take the 
long look, take comfort where it’s
offered, let go worry. I slept well. The
woodstove’s fire is laid. I’m swaddled
in warm clothes and a soft blanket.
I fell but didn’t even bruise myself.
I picked zinnias, and my son picked
lemon balm, which he calls tea before
the cold killed. Winter is announced,
but it’s not severe. The sun will lift
the air into the fifties, and it will beat
on the back door and warm the house.
Mrs. Crawley always said, “It’s no good 
to worry. Turn it over to God.” God for 
me is the grain of the universe. Let it 
go. Do what you can. That’s always 
enough. You’ve known that a long time.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Late Years One



My backyard in 2009, with zinnias, cosmos, and White Rock hens.

The Late Years  November 4, 2018

One

After hesitating, the cold comes down.
Nearly freezing, with wind. Sun
combats clouds, winning by afternoon.
Hard to know what is best when there
are so few choices. If I have at least
the gray before full dawn, I can see my
way. Full sun, when it comes, is
intoxicating even if I can’t look it in
the face. My life is circumscribed to
small spaces, for writing and for
sleeping. Three hours in the kitchen
exhausts me, but I still make pear
preserves. I venture to the hen house
to open their shutters and let them into
their yard and the orchard. I feed and 
drop bread crumbs to watch them
shriek and scramble. I plot robust
meals, take frequent breaks to rest,
read, or write a few pages. I’m putting
books in print and writing poems.
I still have students who like my 
Muse-inspired approach to critiquing.
A young woman studies my life,
early and late. Another woman trusts
me with the novel she worries over.
A third welcomes me when I go to
walk at the big dam and teaches me 
about eagles. My son lifts the heavy
chores off my shoulders. My Muse
still speaks, when I open my mind. 
People say, “Have a blessed day.”  All
my days lately are blessed. I’m loved.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Shadows Thirty

Judy at her book party for her books Grace, A China Diary and Political Peaches: the Fifth Penny Weaver Mystery. 2017.
Photo by Johnsie Tipton.

***
Shadows Thirty October 28, 2018

Even love has its misunderstandings.
Sometimes my son and I knock heads.
We’ve learned to let go when arguments
go nowhere. Everyone has her own world
view, her own life story, fears, and dread.
Agony is human, but so is joy. We watch
the exultant eagles join the circling vultures.
For one, it’s work-related, for another, it’s 
ecstatic. When our hopes and desires
merge, worry disappears. When pain
returns, we are constrained to work free.
I write my troubles down, the better to let
them go. When they reappear, I’m
prepared. We all learn as fast as we can,
which means some more slowly than others. 
A lot depends on our heritage and even
more on work we’ve already done to cope
when people hated us, when our loved ones
turned their faces away. The late years
lead to a homecoming or some call it a
home-going. We have some say-so. For
me, there are many rewards in this last
stage, which Erik Erikson called “Ego
integrity versus despair.” We find rewards
for our self-defense, our ability to listen
and give a helping hand. People we
scarcely knew turn up to help us. A young
woman wants to study me for clues to 
living a benign life as a freedom-fighter.
Another woman in her middle years is
drawn to my relaxed humor. Most terrible
things draw our tears, but some that can
wrench us can later make us laugh. My
doctor, as I eluded the medicines and
survived, calls me Trouble, but she’s
smiling. Another older woman says we’re
both eccentric, but a good eccentric. My
son is learning to protect garden spiders, 
cherish poetry, and love my homemade bread.
I still walk without a cane, urged upon me five 
years ago. Some work I’ve let go. I rest more,
but I do all I can do–gratefully. Look around:
I have students and friends. I’m cherished by
those I want to cherish me. I’m alive and writing
down what my last years are like. Already I
inherit that persistence I fore-see in my shadow

after I’m gone. She’ll be okay.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Shadows Twenty-Nine


Judy and Wag, curious. Photo by Doc Ellen, DVM.

***
Shadows Twenty-Nine October 21, 2018

For Ellen and Emma on a Saturday at Jordan Lake

Three women, two older, one with a small dog 
and one with a camera on a gray day at the 
Jordan Lake dam. The young one photographs 
everything: the morning glories on the verges,
purple, blue, orange. Her favorite is the blue,
she says. Below us water foams and leaps out
of the dammed up lake. We speak of the eagles.
“I haven’t seen one,” the older woman in her lawn 
chair says.  Then, “Wait. Speaking of eagles,
there’s a young one. They look like red-tailed
hawks.” We look at that high-flying speck. We
speak of pollution, how this grand lake became
polluted a year after it was made. How the changing
climate can wipe out migrating flocks which
can’t feed off grain in the fields as they journey
south. “The eagles are okay. Their diet is fish.”
A week earlier, when they counted the eagles
they could see from the dam, they saw twenty-five
young and mature. If we can learn to preserve
the lake, the eagles, and the fish, we might manage
to preserve human life through its stages, young
to old. The young one says, “I want to go back
there.” The older women are glad. Keep up
the fight to treasure and protect our world alive.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Shadows Twenty-eight


Juvenile Bald Eagles playing at Jordan Lake. 
Photo by Doc Ellen, DVM
***

Shadows Twenty-Eight.  October 14, 2018

Are people like eagles? Sometimes.
They can be larger in their spirits
than those around them and see to
the heart with a kindly but relentless
eye. Left by themselves they find
the world constantly entertaining.
Some people avoid them–afraid
or contemptuous? A few are drawn
and want to be taught and influenced.
Those give an ineffable joy, a glimpse
of something eternal which not even
a savage hurricane can destroy.
They build nests high and in unlikely
places–often messy and yet comfortable.
At maturity they don’t actually compete.
The tend to outgrow that impulse, but
their goal is to be the best that they can
be. We might envy their high-ranging
flights. Sky per se doesn’t frighten
them. It feels like home. They willingly
go it alone, but companionship at those
heights is their chief reward and
birthright when all is said and done.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Shadows Twenty-Seven

Photo by Ellen Tinsley, DVM Judy and Wag coming out of the fog.

***
Shadows Twenty-Seven October 7, 2018

For Ellen

How to tell it? I have a new friend
in the midst of my aging, when new
friends are rare. She’s a bird-watcher.
I’m a people-watcher. What I learn,
I scarcely know until I put it in my
books. Some mistrust other people
first and foremost. I attend to them
with my mind open. She talked to 
my dog, and Wag listened. Wag is
tolerant now of other people but
skeptical, too. It takes time for her
to trust, but the bird-watcher turned
out to be a dog-whisperer and spoke
Wag’s language, baffling to me. Mind
over matter maybe. Wag would stop,
hesitate, and then touch her nose to
the outstretched hand. Me she pulled
in, too, to tell of the sixteen eagle
nests around our Jordan Lake. I
asked how they would have fared
during our hurricane. She said they
have favorite places to hunker down
during storms, but we had four days
of wind and rain, so she’s checking
on them. She watches for them to
fly by, way up there and catches
them in her camera the way she
caught Wag and me as we walked 

toward her, both smiling, she says.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Shadows Twenty-Four

 My figs back in 2011, after Hurricane Irene. No figs this year.

***
Shadows Twenty-Four September 16, 2018

During Hurricane Florence

This monster hurricane has shaken our
assumptions. Wind and rain, if intense,
can’t be stopped. People are begged
to leave their homes, but many refuse.
So streets, cars, houses, stores are flooded.
Rescue work is unleashed. Here we had
wind and rain, but in bearable amounts. 
We were safe. We had electricity. Tim
watched the hurricane news. I worked
proofing my novels, written, but not yet
published. We could still cook our food, 
heat tea, make coffee. At the coast, some
died, and many lost everything. We can
expect more and more storms like Florence
because we pollute the air, and the earth
warms. Scientists tell us that we’re
already at the tipping point of climate
change. Do we remember to value our
human connections, our friends wherever
they live and those we love whether
we understand why or not? This twenty-
first century challenges the human
spirit even more than the twentieth
did and threatens us with the vengeance
the earth itself wreaks, and no human
mind controls.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Shadows Twenty-Five


Shadows Twenty-Five September 23, 2018

I slowed down, did easy work, nothing
strenuous. The hurricane left us to mop
up and dry out. Sun came back, the better
to see the devastation. Here, where we
escaped the worst, life was almost normal
despite rivers that flowed upstream, the
milk we couldn’t buy, the flooded roads
we couldn’t pass. I wanted more work.
I made a list I’m crossing off. Something
in me wants serious work, to tell some
story more than poetry tells or my
diary. A new book then about aging
and adapting. There is more to tell
than I have admitted so far. At eighty-one,
how many women tell what it’s like,
to lose the capabilities we always assumed,
to have gates closed, but the mind still
open, still able to articulate paradox
and justice, when everything in the human
being or in the state works easily and
smoothly together, each part doing its
own work? Mine has been to write, tell
my mind’s story. I’ve written many books,
but there is still more to tell. I will.





Sunday, September 30, 2018

Shadows Twenty-Six


Photo of Wag during our morning walk by the retired Horse Vet. Wag is 16 years old, 112 in dog years. She still loves to walk.

***
Shadows Twenty-Six September 30, 2018

When Wag and I walk at the dam
shortly after it gets light, we meet
people, too. Two women–mother
and daughter--come to run. An older 
man walks his father’s dog round
and round. He tries not to see me,
but to my “Good morning,” he mutters,
“Morning.” I see fisher people below
on either side of the dam, watch how
the lake water is now being released
to rush downstream. A new figure
appeared. An older woman with a
camera. She talked to Wag, who
listened. I decided she must be a
dog-whisperer. When she held out
her hand, Wag slowly approached
and sniffed. Her truck license said,
“Neigh Dr.” She told me she was
a retired horse vet. Now she talks
to me, too. She’s watching for the
eagles who have a nest not far
away. I saw one once, perched
on a pipe the way the vultures do.
Until I was close, I didn’t see the 
white head and tail feathers. He
waited until I was close to fly off.
Perhaps he already knew me. I’m
sure the eagles know the horse
doctor. They’re probably curious.
She loves watching for eagles
and talking to Wag and me.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Death of a Hell-Razor out soon



The ninth Penny Weaver mystery, The Death of a Hell-Razor, comes out November 5, 2018. 

Book description:  

In Death of a Hell-Razor, Penny is teaching remedial English under a new and more enlightened administration at St. Francis College. The new president set up a summer boot camp in English and Math for students not ready for college, encourages them to work as interns and assistants with various maintenance staff at the college, and the Drama teacher is putting on Fences by August Wilson, which is a morale boost for both serious students and those trying to slide by. The reforms are helping many, but some students are still selling and taking drugs, failing their classes, and engaging in sexual abuse. Penny has several students making Ds after having failed Reading and Pre-Composition several times already. When one of them is killed, suspicion falls on a 30-year-old ex-con, who had served many prison terms, but he is working hard to do well at the college, and Penny believes he is sincere and would never have killed another student. Even Penny’s friends, Sammie and Derek, believe Mitchell is guilty, although there is no evidence. It rests on Penny and Mitchell’s few supporters to find the real killer.

Reviews:  

With the immediacy of almost continuous dialogue, The Death of a Hell-Razor focuses on relationships instead of violence, and on who needs support rather than on who’s to blame. It centers around the dark question of a murder, a simple reality in the cold, cruel, imbalanced world we already know, but the murder isn’t the point of the story–the love is. What makes this story surprising is the dream of an invested, concerned community built around that question, inspired by its fierce, respected, intuitively brilliant elder heroine, whose wisdom and patient unconditional support of everyone–whether or not they believe in themselves–is so compelling. I feel almost lonely without her.–Mindi Meltz, Author of Lonely in The Heart of the World

The Death of a Hell-Razor is a fictitious journey through the lives of staff and students at an Historically Black University (HBU). With all of its challenges and high drama, the characters are real and rich, with hearts as big as Texas. The journey brought smiles, tears, and sorrow. But at the end, the reader will come away with some serious soul food with a sprinkling of HBU pride. Great read!–Gary Tyson, Former Siler City, NC Police Chief

Sales info:

Hell-Razor sells for $15, $16 with tax, $19 to be mailed, checks to PO Box 253, Moncure, NC, 27559.

ISBN-13: 978-1721177059. E-book will be released October 24. $2.99 for Kindle. You may order on Amazon or directly from Judy. Two paperback mysteries of the nine published for $25, including tax and postage. Pre-orders from now. Judy Hogan

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Shadows Twenty-Three



Shadows Twenty-Three September 9, 2018

It is not easy to distinguish reality from illusion, especially when one lives in a period of the great upheaval that began a couple of centuries ago on a small western peninsula of the Euro-Asiatic continent, only to encompass the whole planet during one man’s lifetime with the uniform worship of science and technology. And it was particularly difficult to oppose multiple intellectual temptations in those areas of Europe where degenerate ideas of dominion over men, akin to the ideas of dominion over Nature, led to paroxysms of revolution and war at the expense of millions of human beings destroyed physically or spiritually. And yet perhaps our most precious acquisition is not an understanding of those ideas, which we touched in their most tangible shape, but respect and gratitude for certain things which protect people from internal disintegration and from yielding to tyranny. Precisely for that reason some ways of life, some institutions became a target for the fury of evil forces, above all the bonds between people that exist organically, as if by themselves, sustained by family, religion, neighborhood, common heritage. In other words, all that disorderly, illogical humanity, so often branded as ridiculous because of its parochial attachments and loyalties. In many countries traditional bonds of civitas have been subject to a gradual erosion and their inhabitants become disinherited without realizing it. It is not the same, however, in those areas where suddenly, in a situation of utter peril, a protective, life-giving value of such bonds reveals itself.–Czeslaw Milosz Nobel Lecture, 1980.

This is what we suffer. This wears us down.
Those small towns I lived in as a child: Zenith,
Kansas, Cameron, West Virginia, Norman,
Oklahoma. I walked to the post office. I
Visited the women quilting in the church
basement, my parents took me seriously
and believed I could do anything I wanted
to do, even if, later, I scared them to death
by loving mavericks, challenging the racial
line, risking my life, my health, my safety.
Wherever I went, I built community,
fostered connections between those going
it alone. Milosz helped me see, at age
eighty-one, that our worship of science
and technology, our allowing a dictator
to be elected president, is killing us off.
The big electricity corporation has brought
us a present we couldn’t refuse of seven
million tons of poison. They say they’ll stop 
now.  They’ve done enough damage. Instead,
they’ll burn the coal ash again and kill us 
faster. No one stops them. People are
getting sick. They don’t want to fight
any more. They forget: when we fight, we
love each other. We can live with our
differences. Black, white, and Hispanic;
church-goers and non-church-goers.
Andrew says, “You’ve won a victory. 
Have a victory party.” Rhonda says, 
“You’re defying the doctors. I predict
you’ll have a stroke.” She’s angry at her
body’s weakness, and at me, for trusting
myself and challenging doctors, our techno-
masters in a sickening world. The human
body knows how to heal itself. Instead, they
give us pills and then more pills, and the 
body then is truly sick, won’t fight any more. 
Milosz lived under the Nazis, under Stalin.
He fought and he survived. I, too, am
fighting, and I, too, am surviving. Love
can conquer. Give it a try.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Shadows Twenty-Two


Judy making bread, with sticky hands.

Shadows Twenty-Two September 2, 2018

Proust thought Time destroyed us,
those hidden memories our only
salvation. For me, Time allows
fulfillment, to come into my own,
to learn, to heal, and even to be
recognized and valued. There were
people who hated me, but they
didn’t stop me. My own body
slowed me down, reminded me
I had done well and to think of those
I love. I persuaded my friends
and my doctor to trust my way
of life, my faith in myself; to let
me continue my independent way. 
My son and I learned to live
together. We lost some crops,
but harvested bushels of tomatoes.
I made spaghetti sauce and soup.
Now there are grapes to make
Muscadine jelly, pears to make
preserves. I do my work as a
writer, editor, teacher. I celebrate
Jaki, whom I first published
forty-five years ago. I will
teach poetry and story writing.
Like the moon’s slow, steady
increase of its light, I resume

my own life of work and love.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Shadows Twenty-One


Zinnia with butterfly

***

Shadows Twenty-One

For Jaki

You looked so fragile, but I
knew even then that you were
tough. Now I look back on
your resurrections. After you
left that March day in 1973,
I saw a small white dogwood
blooming across the racist fields.
It named your spirit. A briefcase
full of poems: some loving, some
harsh. I felt their power. Then
that Fourth of July, when we 
went to Asheville, you with
baby Eva, and in your appointment
book for January, you wrote:
“background music, fireworks,
cheering,” and then, over and
over: “simmering of blood,
simmering of blood, simmering
of blood.” I put that page–110–
in your book. Those early years
I worried about your life. After
Imani died, I worried about
your health. In your grief, 
your hands were paralyzed. You
couldn’t write. You healed again,
and now they’ve honored you,
made you the state’s laureate poet.
You wanted me there to celebrate.
I offended many in those days 
forty-five years ago. I broke up
the cliques, published the writers 
who were different, who were
marginalized. Together we changed
those margins, and you’re alive
and still speaking truth.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Shadows Twenty



Cosmos in my garden in 2014. They bloom again this year.

Shadows Twenty August 19, 2018

For Virginia

How do I describe my faithfulness to my
deepest knowledge, to what I see but
can’t easily reveal in words. I tried not
to be good as a child is good. I rebelled
against old formulas, trite words. I loved
Thoreau’s wisdom: “If I see someone
coming to do me good, I run for my life.”
I rejected that impulse to “do good.” Yet I 
have always worked against evil when
I saw it blazing up in corporations, in
those fearful of rocking the boat, or who
were terrified to be seen as bad, as trouble-
makers. So I’ve been castigated, dismissed, 
written off. It hasn’t been so bad. Some
tender hearts have loved me, and even
tough-spirited strangers have helped me
out. I have a few fans of my books. I
don’t need acclaim, but I do need to feel
loved and acknowledged by those I love
and trust, those who can see with clear
eyes who I am, what I care about. I’ve
been told many times that what I want
is impossible, will never happen. They
say life isn’t like that. You don’t get what
you wish for. In short, the power of evil
is too great. I don’t give up, however,
and then people love me. Things begin
to change. What my skeptics have
forgotten is the power of transformation
and what love can do when it’s unleashed,
when we see clearly, when other people’s
minds open like a book that wants to be
read. I can’t make that happen. I can’t
stop it. I can, however, give it my 
gratitude and let it go to work.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Shadows Nineteen



Zinnias in bloom a few years ago. they bloom now, too.

***
Shadows Nineteen August 12, 2018

For Tim

So much change since April, when
my son arrived to help me with this
aging time and the body’s unpredictable
messages. He was there when my nose
bled. He picked up chores when my
heart beat too fast. He scolded if I
worked too hard. He likes pizza and
spaghetti, so I make those often. We
talk out problems, so I write less
in my diary, and I’ve stopped reading
mysteries to help pass the time. We
argue sometimes and then make amends.
I go to sleep early, and he stays up late.
He closes the chickens up at night, 
and I let them out in the morning. He 
fixed the clothesline when it fell
down and loves my Wag as well as
his Sophie. He writes poems now
and came to my workshop. He’ll
soon leave to work in Durham, but
I can do most things now. I have my
strategies and resources. When I 
can’t find things, he finds them. I
couldn’t have made him move here
to help me out, but he came, and he
stays. He’ll get his own place soon,
but he wants to be nearby. There are
things I can’t do any more and won’t
try, but I write, I laugh, I share the
wisdom of having lived sixty years
doing what my Deep Self said to do.
I’ve also realized that I’m happy.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Shadows Eighteen


Shadows Eighteen August 5, 2018

Sleep is a gift. When I want to,
sometimes I can’t. When I don’t
want to, sometimes it takes me
without any notice until I wake up.
Mostly, it’s generous. I sleep at night,
even before dark, and before light, 
wake for the day, already rested.
I know it heals. The body and soul
blend together in sleep, help each
other, confide their troubles, and
let them go. I am changed, renewed,
healed, ready to take on what the
new day will uncover. Lately? More
joy than sorrow, healing laughter,
a grateful heart.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Shadows Seventeen


Judy making pizza in August 2018

***
Shadows Seventeen July 29, 2018

For Mary Susan and Tom Heath

At two a.m. I’m wide awake. What
is my mind trying to tell me? Not, 
I think, “Slow down.” I already have.
No, it’s urging me to do a little more
each day until I approach normal, a
new normal. Full recovery is slow, maybe
not even possible, but I can pick my
own tomatoes, make the soups and
sauces that will brighten winter days.
Tomatoes are good for the body and 
the soul. They heal in subtle ways.
In the garden I still find the neglected 
thyme and oregano. I add some basil
I dried a few years ago. I buy fat
green peppers and slice up strong
white onions. The garlic is sprouting,
but I dice it small and add it to the
celery, and then stir in tomato paste
and many sauce tomatoes. They are
ripening in paper bags where the
bugs can’t eat them, and keeping
cold in the refrigerator for the next
batch of sauce. Whatever my old
heart is up to, it thrives on a plate
of spaghetti with melted cheese,
and a rich tomato sauce. Don’t 
forget the bay leaf, a sprinkle of
black pepper added to the sauteeing

onions, and a dash of salt.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Shadows Sixteen


Zinnias and Cosmos 2014. We have them again in 2018

Shadows Sixteen July 22, 2018

The storm hit us at three-twenty and
knocked out the power. I found my
flashlight, and Tim found his. We got
candles lit. The sky bloomed light, but 
the thunder was slow to follow. Tim 
slept, and I waited for the storm’s further
withdrawal after the lights returned.
Normal life is back. My zinnia garden
lavishes color; the chicks grow plump
and feathered. The old dead oak that
worries us is still standing. The wind
didn’t harass the flowers. Every morning
I see pink and purple morning glories
seven feet off the ground, having
climbed up the sunflower stalks. I
Read Maslow’s being love again.
It’s why I stayed calm when my nose
bled, when my heart rushed, and I
had to sit quietly until it ceased to
panic. Can we heal because we’re
happy? I think so.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Shadows Fifteen


Our first zinnia in 2018

Shadows Fifteen July 15, 2018

I was afraid my heart would rebel
and keep me from leading a workshop
on writing poetry. My friend had said
to rest more. I had things to do,
but I did stop to rest. Then six people
came to learn what I knew about
poetry. “What is a poem?” I asked.
They suggested it was condensed
words, that it was like a stream running
through the soul. I told them the
fourth grader’s understanding: “A poet
is someone who writes poetry, someone
who loves all living things.” I told
them about Homer’s Muse, about
the Old Testament prophets who
cried: “The Word of the Lord came 
to me.” About how words could seem
to take off, and the deeper mind to
throw up words we weren’t expecting.
I mentioned Jacques Maritain’s hexis–
a gift we have in our unconscious
that we need to take care of and
listen to. If the poem starts in the
grocery store, make more room
in your life for the Muse. Then I 
asked them to write a simple poem,
and they all did, even the librarian.
To my surprise, they all read their
new poems. They trusted me and
each other enough on very short
acquaintance. My heart behaved and
was quieted. Another unexpected gift.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Shadows Fourteen



Judy in her writing corner July 2018.

***
Shadows Fourteen July 8, 2018

Our days cool ten degrees–what a change.
I pull on a long-sleeved shirt. The chicks
need their heat lamp. My son walks his
dog in the cool evening air. My body
inches its way back to normal. I am
still Judy Hogan. I can walk at the dam
again. I laugh telling tales of when I
took those in power so much by surprise
that they changed their tune. When I
fill their feeders, I stop to watch the
chicks run to the new feed or sit
placidly to watch. I load my new
book files onto the website for printing
them. I ask help from old and new
friends, and they come through. So
many things in my everyday life feel 
like miracles. I tell myself, yes, I did
the groundwork, I established the
trust, yet I am still surprised. Who
knew age could have so many
miracles even as my power wanes. I 
never did demand acclaim, only the 
opportunity to send my words out 
on the world’s waters for strangers
to read, revel in, and meditate on 
the truth they hold in their hands.










Sunday, July 8, 2018

Shadows Thirteen


Vera Belikh's painting of Volga, boats, and church, at Tver
***
Shadows Thirteen July 1, 2018

Another hot day lives outside
my window. I’m healing slowly.
I’ll soon be able to care for the
chicks again. Two more days.
They live in the coop now in
their own “room,” only rarely
need the heat lamp. I’ll be able to
fill their feeders and waterer;
make sure their heat lamp is on
in the cool night air. My spirit
staggered under the command
to heal or bleed. I healed. Now
it’s time to find my feet again,
resume my chores, my daily
walk, live without deranging
fear, trust my heart to keep its
steady pace, my limbs to carry
me, my Muse to speak and comfort

me and others at the same time.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Shadows Eleven



Photo of my White Rock hens several years ago, by John Ewing

***
Shadows Eleven June 17, 2018

A friend who is four years older,
still working hard with mower 
and chainsaw, had a stroke. It’s
what the doctors worry about
with me. I’ve eased off the hard
physical labor, but I still carry
water to the hens, rake, hoe, and
plant seeds, dig out weeds. I wrote
a new novel in April and May, and
now I type it. I cook and clean,
but I rest when I’m tired, still sleep
hard at night, avoid high heat days.
The body has its signals, tells me
to ease up, take a break, but it
doesn’t mean I can’t still do most
things. And my muse is still lively. 
I notice small signs, read the souls
of others better than they know or
want to know. Wesley surprised
me. His early love not dead at
eighty-one, his fantasy still alive;
mine, locked in memory. Most
loves faded or fell silent. Only 
one burns bright still and, like
a sun in the underworld, 
outshines all the lesser ones.




Sunday, June 24, 2018

Baba Summer: Part One will be published in 2019


Judy and Mikhail in 1992 in Kostroma, Russia

***
Adelaide Books of New York City will publish my first memoir of my Russian experiences early in 2019. Here's a little about it.

***


I open my  experience, not only of coping with a potent love but also of making bonds with a nationally known painter, a school teacher, and a philosophy student.   I was one of the first American writers to visit the Kostroma region, and my partner in the exchanges was a new experience for central North Carolina residents.  Our writer exchanges and mutual publishing projects continued through 2001.  These new connections occurred as Russia went through the upheaval of changing from Communism to Capitalism. This intense experience of working on peace and understanding with our former enemy was the biggest event of my life.

***

In 1992 I would meet Vera Belikh, the painter and philosopher daughter of the national painter, Aleksei Belikh, whom I met in 1990 during my first visit. Here is Vera's painting of a church by the Volga, in the autumn.

****

This is the Black River flowing through the remote forest or taiga in the Mezha District of the Kostroma Region. The county officials took me to see the landscape near where Mikhail had been born, in a village among many lost during the collectivization of the farms, and the loss of men in World War II (The Great Patriotic War). Mikhail talked and reminisced about his growing up in a village from the beginning of our writer exchanges.

***


In August 1992 I was also able to spend some time in the village of Gorka, where MIkhail's wife Katya had grown up. Left to right, Tanya, Mikhail's granddaughter, Larissa, married to Mikhail's son Misha, standing, then the little son of Misha and Larissa, then Shura, Katya's sister-in-law, and Katya's brother Kolya, and in front: Aleksei (Alyosha), Mikhail's younger son, and then Mikhail. Taken in front of the village house, where I also stayed.


In Moscow after I visited Kostroma in August 1990, I met Larissa Bavrina (on the right),pictured here with her friend Tanya, close since childhood. Larissa gave me and my son a tour of Red Square before we caught our train back to Finland. Larissa and I still correspond. She's become a close friend of mine.Our early letters, 1990-92 are in Baba Summer: Part One. Judy

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Shadows Ten


Nadya's apples and plums from her dacha. 2009

***
Little Bobby! He used to come out from
his nap, get in my lap, and we would read
a story. His blonde hair stood straight up.
After the graduation exercises were over,
we waited a long time to see our tall Bobby.
His hair curls now. I held onto Tim’s arm
as we walked back to his truck. There goes
little Bobby into his new life. I work to
bring a happy closure to my life, put my
books into print, stop the coal ash dumping,
heal where I’m looked to; accept the
extra help as needed, soothe and reassure
others who hesitate to put their full weight
on living their own lives, trusting their

own souls. Trust yours, Bobby! It’s there.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Shadows Nine


Wise sage in my garden a few years ago.

***
Shadows Nine June 3, 2018

It all helps. When I scorched the bread,
turning the heat to broil instead of turning
it off, my son comforted me. “Michael 
Jordan said in his life he’d missed more baskets
than he’d hit, and he was the greatest
basketball player of all time.” Then Wesley
called, my very first love. At twelve, our
love was simple. He brought me a gardenia
every day. We held hands and were happy.
Now he tends his wife who has dementia,
and he can’t seem to answer my letters.
He doesn’t know why. I said, “This is
wearing on your spirit. Don’t be too hard
on yourself.” At the coal ash meeting
we learn of a study to test the wells around
the landfill that holds six million tons of 
poison. We have new members joining us 
from another local group. These are gifts 
to keep me going. I am always behind
in my daily chores, but we eat well
and admire our happy tomato plants.
The weeds return with every rain, but
the hydrangea and the daylilies bloom.
The good in my life defies all logic as 
usual and touches my inward soul like
a softly falling rain.



Sunday, June 3, 2018

Shadows Eight


Shadows Eight May 20, 2018

May has brought surprises good
and bad. My story–our story--of a
love that crossed the huge ocean--
will go into print in less than a year.
I happily prepare the text for
publication. My editor is impatient
but passionate. I tell everyone I
meet. My Russian friends rejoice,
too, and send permission to print
their letters. Friendships ruled
those years, and sometimes love,
which went too deep to let go and
lifted us to a higher plane of 
existence. What people see is an
old woman who is sometimes
stubborn. She fights with doctors
and talks about her Muse, which
is no longer fashionable. Not that
it matters. Socrates didn’t trouble
himself about fashions. Nor did
Plato, who knew about falling in 
love. He fell in love with the 
reality behind things that made
them what they are. Let them
think what they wish. My glimpses
of the real world will stand the
test of time as well as my shoes
did when I had to talk through
foot-deep running water to cross
the street and the next morning 
they were dry.